Green Top Virginia Fishing Report
Sometime in the early 1960s, Green Top fishing pros began posting local fishing reports each week on a chalk board. Anglers in central Virginia stopped by to share and to learn where fish were biting and what baits were working best, both in freshwater and saltwater.
Today, we proudly carry on this tradition of covering mid-Atlantic areas—usually every week—from the Chesapeake Bay, to Virginia rivers and lakes, to North Carolina's Outer Banks on Green Top's Fishing Report.
Whether your passion is chasing Billfish, Wahoo, Speckled Trout, Reds, Bass, Catfish, Stripers, or Yellow Perch, Green Top pros have the gear and advice you need to make all your outdoor adventures a success.
Fishing Report for May 18, 2022
The last few days have been outstanding for the Black Drum. The southern end area of the Eastern Shore is where some of the action is taking place. Many are using clam, fished along the bottom. Bottom fishing for the Reds slowed down a bit, but some are finding them schooled up, roaming near the surface. This is an exciting event to behold. Hundreds of Reds can be seen, and cast to, with just about any lure. They are strong fish, so quality tackle is greatly appreciated when doing battle. Reports of Sheepshead inside the bay, have been confirmed. The CBBT structures is where the catches are coming from. Fiddler crabs, and Blue crabs are the baits of choice. A good setup with 30 # braid, and a 30# mono, or flourocarbon leader, is what many prefer. This setup is also good for jigging for Flounder, while using bucktails. Dress the bucktails with Gulp! trailers, or fresh strip bait, A minnow/squid combo is good for the Flounder also. As of 5/1/22, the minimum Flounder size is 16 inches. Tautog season is closed through June 30, so they must be released. Rockfish season is now open through 6/15/22. There is a 20 inch minimum, and a 28 inch maximum size limit. One fish per day per angler. Look to the rivers, such as the Piankatank for good Rockfish action. Seabass season is open through 12/11/22. Charters are doing well with numbers of Seabass. Ocean wrecks are where most of the Seabass are found. The minimum size is 13 inches, with a 15 fish per angler limit per day. Anglers continue to enjoy a great Puppy Drum bite throughout the lower bay. Along with the Pups, we are seeing an increase in the Speckled Trout action. This is also due to bigger interest in the smaller water habitats. With the increasing price of fuel, many are opting to use their smaller crafts. This bite is less impacted by wind, since many areas are not wide open. Folks from Nags Head to Buxton, are enjoying good surf action for the Pups also. The Speck fishing is almost just as good. Catches are coming from both the seaside, and the sound side. Bluefish are also being reported. The piers are reporting lots of Sea Mullet, with occasional catches of Trout. Offshore boat have reported Black fin Tuna, Yellow fin Tuna, Wahoo, and increased catches of Mahi. Some Sailfish are also being caught.
Bass fishing remains good on the tidal rivers. The James, Chick, Rapp, and Potomac rivers receive the most pressure, but the Pamunkey, and Mattaponi are fishing good also. Topwaters, such as buzzbaits, and grass frogs, are excellent. A wide spectrum of lures can be used now, as metabolism is high, due to the warming water temps. The warming water has the big Catfish feeding more frequently also. With warmer weather in the forecast, night fishing for the Cats will become more popular. The upper James has become a bit stained, but this can sometimes help the bite, as the Smallmouth will often move shallower during the higher, stained water. While the tidal fishing remains good, the lakes have become tough lately. Particularly Kerr Lake. The Shad spawn has been taking place, but they are constantly moving. Productive areas can become vacant overnight. The easiest bite has been the first 2 hours of the morning, on topwater baits. Calm, sunny days can be difficult. There are still some spawners in the lakes, but for the most part, post spawn patterns are prevalent. Crappie are being caught from shallow brush, but are also moving to the deeper brush. Landlocked Stripers continue to bite well. Topwater baits are working, as is the ever productive live bait. The Sunfish spawn is beginning in the lakes and ponds now. This is a very fun bite to behold. They can group up in large numbers, and be very aggressive towards intruders to their areas. Live bait, such as crickets, and worms, work well. For artificials, small 2 inch grubs can be outstanding. Rig these on 1/16 oz jigheads, with a slow steady retrieve. Many times, the bigger fish will be deeper, just outside the obvious bedding areas.
Fishing Report for May 11, 2022
The big Specks are being brought to the scales! Speck anglers are tight lipped about locations, but more big fish have been showing up lately. Traditional places are producing, but don't be afraid to explore new areas. Many of the bigger fish are being caught on natural baits. Puppy Drum continue to stretch lines in many areas of the lower bay and oceanfront. Hampton, Lynnhaven, The Elizabeth River, & Rudee Inlet, are some of the more popular areas. Cut bait, such as fresh mullet work well for shore anglers, and many of those fishing from small vessels, are casting paddle tail swim baits, and topwaters. A few reports of Croaker have been made from inside some of the rivers. Croaker fishing has been below average for the past several years. But, the month of May, historically, is usually when we will see the first catches. Huge Black Drum continue to be caught from areas of the Eastern Shore. Fresh clam is what many are having the best luck with. The May full moon is near, so we typically see giant catches of Red Drum during this time. But so far, the Black Drum have been greatly out numbering the Red's. This will soon change. The big schools of Red's should start to appear very soon. Trophy catches of Sheepshead are increasing now also. Spanish Mackerel are being caught from some of the Hatteras piers, and inshore boats, so soon, we can expect to see them appear along the Va Beach oceanfront. There hasn't been much word of Flounder lately, but there should be more interest for these fish as warm weather settles in. Before the weekend, there were excellent catches of Wahoo being made out of Hatteras. Good catches of Mahi were occurring also. There's been a lot of rough seas since then, so right now, things are slow. Hopefully, this will change later in the week. The Nags Head surf was in the 63 degree range late last week, resulting in catches of Speckled Trout, Sea Mullet, and Puppy Drum.
The James and Chickahominy rivers continue to produce excellent catches of Largemouth. Over the weekend, 24 lbs was the winning weight out of Osbourne Landing in Varina. 20 lbs was the winning weight out of Route 5 on Saturday. Many of the better catches were made on spinnerbaits, and soft plastics. One can argue that May produces the best tidal river Bass fishing. This holds true for the Rappahannock, and Potomac rivers also. On the other hand, the upper James tends to fall off around the middle of May, and greatly improves around the first of June. The tidal rivers are good for big Blue Cats year round, but May provides great opportunities for both day and night fishing for the Cats. Typically, once June arrives, the better fishing occurs at night. Now is a great time for the landlocked Stripers in the lakes that they are stocked in. Kerr Lake has Stripers that actually reproduce, whereas, with the other lakes in the state, they cannot. The fishing is very good for them at this time, wherever is chosen. Lake Anna is close to the Richmond area, and is producing quite a few. Live bait experts are doing best, but there is a good topwater bite in the early morning right now. There are still some Bass spawning in the lakes, but post spawn patterns are developing already. The Bass are still shallow, and topwater baits are a great way to locate them quickly. Docks are usually a good bet now also. Large docks can be a good starting place when searching for Crappie right now. Large numbers of Crappie can group up in very small quarters in these situations. Another species of fish that can group up in large numbers in a small area, are the Sunfish. These are extremely fun fish to catch, and are excellent to eat as well. Half the fun can be catching the bait that will be used. Worms, crickets, grubs, larvae, all make great bait. Warm weather fishing is upon us, so get out and enjoy!
Fishing Report for May 5, 2022
The Black Drum are getting bigger it seems. Some extra large fish are being caught from the waters surrounding the Eastern Shore. Shore anglers and boaters are enjoying the action. Fresh clam is favored, but crab bait is good also. Some have landed some large Sheepshead from hard structures while targeting the Red and Black Drum. Red Drum will become increasingly active as we approach the full moon on May 15. There are lots of Puppy Drum being caught from numerous places in side the bay, and along the oceanfront. Casting swim baits in the shallow creeks and inlets, is yielding solid fish. These same areas are producing Speckled Trout, using the same lures. Some are still catching them on Mir-o-lures. Some are finding a topwater bite. The piers and surf from Hatteras to Hampton are producing Pups and Trout. Those setting up on hard structures inside the bay, are finding Tautog. Chris Carter of Chesterfield caught them up to 19 inches. Chris had to leave early, due to running out of crab. The Togs continue to bite on ocean structures as well. The Tautog season closes between 5-16-22 to 6-30-22. May 16 is when the Ches. Bay Rockfish season opens, including it's tributaries. Minimum size is 20 inches, maximum size is 28 inches. The limit is 1 per day, per angler. Folks fishing the Carolina piers and surf, are finding Sot, Sea Mullet, Croaker, Pups, and Specks. A few Sheepshead are being caught also. Some big Wahoo have been brought to the docks lately. A 93 lber is the biggest we've heard of so far.
The Rappahannock river has been putting out some good catches of Smallmouth this week. There's also been a steady interest in the Snakehead bite. Apparently, there is no shortage of Snakeheads in the Rapp. Shallow, skinny water, is where many find them. The Rapp continues to be good for the Largemouth also. Look for the James and Chick to produce big bags this month, especially in the next 2 weeks. May is always a great month for the tidal rivers. The Bass are hitting a wide variety of lures, but keying in on the bigger fish, can often require fine tuning. Size, color, etc. 20 lbs was the winning weight out of Hopewell on Saturday. May is also a great time to target the giant Blue Cats on the James, and Rapp. Catching fresh bait should not be a problem, but bringing along live eels, is a good plan anyway. Many just cut about a 2 inch piece of the eel. Lake Anna has been great for the Stripers, especially for those using live bait. The hybrid Stripers, or Wipers, are apparently doing very well in Lake Anna. The largest Wiper caught to date, was caught this week, weighing in at just over 13 lbs. These are hard fighting fish. The Crappie have been hit and miss for many. Some are finding them on docks, some over mid depth brush, and some still shallow around grass. Kerr Lake Crappie are starting to relate to mid depth brush and docks also. the Kerr elevation is 300.79'. Folks are enjoying the Striper run into the rivers of Kerr. Some are catching Walleye while targeting the Stripers. Bass are being caught shallow, and should remain that way for most of the month. In lakes with grass, the grass can be a good starting point. If not found, try backing off with a Carolina rig, or shaky head. May is an excellent time to target trophy Bluegills, and Shellcrackers. Finding the spawning beds can be easy when the water is clear, and they are usually aggressive towards intruders. Crickets, worms,minnows, and small, 1-2 " grubs on 1/16 oz jigs, will usually get things done.
Fishing Report for Apr 28, 2022
Big Black Drum continue to be caught from the shallows of the Eastern Shore. Over the past week, more catches of bigger fish have occurred. Fresh clam is what many are having success with. Folks are tangling with some big Reds also. The bigger wave of Reds should be arriving soon. Puppy Drum are keeping many anglers busy, as they are shallow, and anglers aren't so weather dependant. The backs of creeks are where many are being found. The Specks are biting in the shallows also, but the drum catches have been out numbering the Trout. The Elizabeth River and Rudee Inlet are very popular for those seeking the Drum and Trout. Some are hooking up with Rockfish in the same areas, but the season for Rockfish is still closed. The Trout bite is much stronger down south, along Nags Head right now. Look for the Flounder bite to increase soon, as they begin to inhabit area like the CBBT. Flounder fishing has been off over the last few years, causing fewer anglers to chase them. Some of the Flounder guys are going after Sheepshead, in which some early season catches have been made already. Sheepshead like crab. Another species that are caught on crab frequently, are Tautog. Some impressive catches of Tog have been made over the last few days. These fish are coming from ocean wrecks. The inshore boats in Hatteras, and Nags Head, are reporting good catches of Sheepshead now. Some of the offshore boats have been returning with Mahi, Blackfin Tuna, and Wahoo.
The upper James is in good shape at the present time, with the level being 5.74'. Now is a great time to target the Smallmouth, as they are aggressive, due to the spawn. Hopefully, the river will stay stable to aid in a successful spawn. Crankbaits, and spinnerbaits are still working well. Topwater baits are a good choice also. The tidal James, and Chickahominy are getting hit hard by Bass anglers, but good catches are still being made. Some of the Bass have already spawned, by the looks of some of the bigger females. May is another outstanding month for Bass on these rivers. Topwater baits, swim baits, chatterbaits, and soft plastics on Texas rigs, and shaky heads are what many are throwing with success. Both the vegetation, and wood cover are good. The Rappahannock is another great place to fish for Bass right now. The Crappie are biting well on the Rapp also. Some very large Crappie have been caught in recent days, from the Rapp. The Blue Catfish action has been excellent on the Rapp. The Potomac River is producing good bags of Bass also. 19 lbs was the winning weight of the BFL tournament on Saturday, the 23rd. Both the grass, and hard cover are producing. The Stripers are biting well in the lakes that contain them. Kerr, Gaston, Smith, and Anna. Live bait has been the ticket for the Stripers at Anna. Early mornings have been best. The Stripers are making their spawning runs on Kerr right now. Fishing up the rivers, above the lake, is where the action is. Bucktails, swim baits, topwater baits, and lipless crankbaits work well. Bass are still spawning on many of the lakes, but there are also Bass in post spawn mode. They are still shallow, but can be hard to catch. Some of the Crappie are moving to shallow brush piles on the area lakes. In local ponds, the Crappie can many times, be caught close to the surface this time of year. This is probably due to insect hatches, and activity. As we enter May, look for the Bluegills and Shellcrackers to begin their spawning rituals. They are a blast to catch.
Fishing Report for Apr 20, 2022
The Puppy Drum bite remains hot inside the lower bay inlets and rivers. Folks are also catching them along the coast, from the Sandbridge surf. Shrimp, and fresh Mullet work well for cut bait. For the folks casting inside the inlets, paddle tailed swim baits are what most are having success with. The Speckled Trout catches are on the rise in the same areas as the Pups, using the same baits. There has been a big number of big Trout caught along the Nags Head surf. Avalon Pier has been a particular hot spot. From the surf of the Eastern Shore, anglers are having great luck with the Black Drum, and the Red Drum. The boaters fishing the shallow waters of Fisherman's Island are having great luck as well. Fresh sea clams, and crab are working well. The Flounder are mostly being caught from the Wachapreague area, but they should make appearances to the south soon. Tautog are still biting on ocean wrecks. The season closes the last 2 weeks of May.
The James River once again, flexes it's muscle in April. The Bassmaster Open ended on Saturday, the 16th. The winner had a 3 day total of 65 lbs! It took a 16-1/2 lb average for 2 days to make the final cut of 10 anglers. Some of the anglers reported finding spawning fish. Many are still prespawn, however. Some of the top baits were topwater baits, swim baits, and soft plastics, such as senkos. The Appomattox, and Chick rivers are also excellent for Bass right now. The Shad bite is winding down, but some are reporting the biggest Shad of the season right now. Rappahannock river anglers are reporting much of the same. The White Perch are still being caught in big numbers from the tidal James. Rockfish are being caught from the tidal rivers, but must be released. Another great bit going on, is the Blue Catfish bite. Just about all of the tidal rivers have giant Blue Cats in them. Fresh cut Shad is excellent at any time. The Bass bite is also going well on the Potomac River right now. The emerging grass is where the fish are being caught. Hard cover can be good when the grass bite is slow. Most of the lakes have the Bass spawn in full swing. Smith Mountain, Lake Anna, and Lake Gaston are perhaps the top 3 in the area, for sight fishing. These lakes also have healthy populations of Stripers, which are being caught in good numbers. Kerr Lake Stripers are making their spawning runs into the tributaries that feed the lake. The river sections are narrow, and can become easily crowded, especially on the weekends. Crappie are still being caught shallow from the lakes and rivers, as some are spawning also. The April full moon usually yields some of the biggest Crappie from all bodies of water that contain them. This is an excellent time to target the upper James, for the Smallmouth. The river is is great shape at the moment, and this weekend is forecast to be favorable. Small, crawfish crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and even topwater baits are good right now.
Fishing Report for Apr 13, 2022
A few anglers pulled in some nice Tautogs from the structures of the CBBT, in the last few days. Crab is becoming easier to obtain, which is the preferred bait of many gamefish. One such fish is the Red Drum. Black Drum like crab as well, but the Red catches are outnumbering the Blacks. But big catches are occurring with both. The seaside of the Eastern Shore is where many focus their efforts. The warm weather has brought more Flounder to the shallows of the Eastern Shore also. Dragging a minnow/squid combo is a long time favorite of many. Bull minnows themselves, work well also. Puppy Drum are being caught in big numbers from the shallows inside the inlets and rivers of the bay, and ocean. The Speckled Trout are increasing in many of the same places. A lot of these fish are being caught using 3-4 inch swim baits, such as Bass Assassins, and Gulp! baits. A few Pups have been caught on topwater baits already. Along the Va. surf, a few people have found some Pups, but they are here one day, and gone the next. But they are coming up the coast. In the Carolina surf, folks are catching Puppy Drum, Sea Mullet, Blow Toads, and Bluefish. Some of the offshore charters have been out, and have returned with Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi, and King Mackerel.
The tidal rivers continue to thrive with spawning Shad, and White Perch. Large numbers of people line the banks near the city limits of Richmond and Fredericksburg. Pink and green baits have been good on both rivers. Both the rivers received a good bit of rain, but the conditions aren't bad, and are improving. Cut bait, bloodworms, and night crawlers work well for the Perch. The Perch make excellent bait for the Catfish, which are in abundance on these rivers also. The upper James has a bit more stain to it than the lower James, so check conditions before chasing the Smallmouth. The Lynchburg area of the James looks good right now. This can be a good area for the Muskie, as well as the Smallmouth. The Bassmaster Open will return to the tidal James this week, so expect some impressive limits of Largemouth to be brought to the scales at Osbourne Landing in Varina. Anglers have plenty of options for areas to fish. The James, Chickahominy, and Appomattox rivers, are available. Who will take the title.. a local perhaps? The area lakes have many of the Bass spawning, and will continue to have them, as the full moon arrives on the 16th. Lake Chesdin has been on fire lately, but watch out for Anna this weekend. Gaston has been putting out some big limits also. The Bass at Kerr have moved into the pockets and coves, and are responding to spinnerbaits, flukes, and senkos, very well. The current elevation is 301' Kerr Lake Crappie are moving shallow and are relating to stumps mostly. There aren't many hanging around brush piles right now. Spider rigging has been good for finding the Crappie. The Stripers continue to move towards the rivers for their spawning runs. Early May is when the Striper bite is best in the rivers. The Stripers are biting well at Anna also. They do not spawn successfully at Anna, but they go through the motions, so they are aggressive at this time. Bass in area ponds and smaller lakes are also spawning. Soon, the Bluegills will be doing their spawning rituals.
Fishing Report for Apr 6, 2022
More Speckled Trout are being caught in more places. The Pups are still outnumbering the Specks, but the Trout are coming around nicely. Many of the catches of both are still coming from soft plastics, but there has been mention of a few topwater catches also. The top areas continue to be the Elizabeth River, Lynnhaven Inlet, Little Creek, and Rudee Inlet. Go shallow! Over on the Eastern Shore, the fishing is heating up. Black Drum catches are being made from the shallows, from both the surf, and boats. Large Red Drum catches are trickling in from around Fisherman's Island. Many are being caught on crab. The evening bite has been better. A few Flounder are being caught from the inlets, with more keepers being caught now. The minimum size is 16-1/2 inches, with a 4 fish limit per person. Things are picking up a bit along the beaches of Nags Head, and Hatteras, with anglers reporting Sea Mullet, Black Drum, Puppy Drum, and Blow Toads. Some big Reds are being caught also, mostly from the point in Buxton.
The Shad are in full swing on the tidal rivers, with the James, and the Rapp being perhaps the most popular. Lure with pink seem to be doing better right now. Spoons , darts, flies, and small curly tailed grubs, are the ticket. The White Perch catches are increasing on the James, and these work very well as cut bait for just about anything. Catfish and Rockfish are especially fond of them. The Rockfish must be released at this time. Bass catches are up considerably in the tidal rivers, particularly on the James and Rapp. 25 lbs was the winning weight from the James over the weekend.( 5 fish limit) The tidal rivers are practically unbeatable in April. The Chick, and Appomattox rivers are excellent at this time as well. Many are throwing Alabama rigs, spinnerbaits, jigs, and chatterbaits. The Potomac River has been fishing good also, particularly for Bass. The aquatic grass is emerging in many places, offering more areas to hold the Bass, than in previous years. The Rapp, and James are giving up strong catches of Crappie right now also. The Crappie biting well at Kerr, with reports of 3 lbers being weighed in recently. The upper sections of Kerr usually produce the bigger Crappie. Stumps can be better for the bigger Crappie. The elevation level at Kerr is currently 301'. Bass are moving into the pockets and coves, but many are still being caught from the points. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, lipless rattling baits, and jigs, are what many pick up first. These baits are working well at Gaston also. Tommy Earle of Henrico, was casting for Bass, and hooked up with a 30 inch Walleye! Lake Chesdin is another hot spot for Bass right now. Some very large 5 fish limits have been weighed lately. Many are awaiting a big wave of spawning Bass on the lakes. There are some on the beds everywhere, but many have yet to pull up. 16 lbs was the winning weight from Anna over the weekend. When the spawn is on, the weights are much heavier. Smith Mountain Lake is another great option for heavy bags of Bass at this time. Stripers abound in Anna, Gaston, Kerr, and Smith. Now is an excellent time to target them also. The Kerr Lake Stripers actually spawn, and are headed towards the headwaters of the lake to do so. May is typically when the heavy spawning takes place at Kerr Lake. The smaller lakes are a great option now too. Swift Creek Reservoir has been yielding some quality catches of Bass recently.
Fishing Report for Apr 1, 2022
Most of the salt anglers are chasing Puppy drum, and Speckled Trout. The local Va. anglers anyway. Rudee Inlet has been the hottest for the Drum. The Elizabeth River has been excellent also. Anglers are finding an increasing number of Speckled Trout also. Some are reporting using topwater baits for the Pups, but most are reporting paddle tailed swim baits on 1/8-3/8 oz jigs. Folks are doing well with the Pups in Lynnhaven Inlet, also. This area will continue to get better as the water temps rise. April usually brings forth the Flounder catches, as they increasingly move towards the shallows. The Wachapreague area is usually where the early Flounder show up. Dragging a minnow/squid combo is what many have success with. Surf anglers along the Nags Head beaches, and south to Hatteras, have been dealing with high, rough surf lately. However, there has still been good catches of Puppy Drum, and some big Reds
Shad! Shad are what many are chasing on the tidal rivers at this time. Along with the Shad, folks are reeling in White Perch in good numbers. These fish are just getting here, and the fishing will increase up until about the 13th of April. The tidal rivers are teaming with bait, and all the gamefish are highly active at this time. Crappie, Bass, Catfish, and migratory Rockfish are being caught in good numbers. The two main players are the James and Rappahannock, but the Mattaponi, and Pamunkey rivers are worthy of efforts. Cut Shad is working best for the Cats and Rockfish, but the Rockfish must be returned, as they are illegal to possess right now. Using cut bait, bloodworms, and dug up worms are working for the White Perch. Inside the pits and creeks are best for the Crappie, and Bass. Now is the time for big stringers of Bass from the tidal rivers. The Chick has been especially good lately. When April arrives, it's time to throw a spinnerbait for Bass. 25 lbs was the winning weight from the Potomac river over the weekend, so there are other options for big Bass, other than the James and Chick. The emerging grass is what many anglers key on, when targeting Bass on the Potomac. Chatterbaits are preferred there at this time. All is well on the lakes at this time. Many of the lakes have the Crappie setting up for the spawn, and the Bass are not far behind. Shallow grass is a good place to start for both, where there is grass present. Lake Chesdin has been remarkably good for Bass lately. 17 lbs, and 16 lbs were the winning weights at Kerr over the weekend, as several tournaments took place on Saturday. Many report spinnerbaits as the main bait there also. Some of the larger Crappie are being caught on isolated stumps, along with mid to shallow brush. The floating docks are good also. Stripers are on the move towards the upper ends of Kerr, as they make their spawning runs into the rivers. The Butchers Creek area has been great for Stripers at Kerr. The upper ends of Anna have been best for the Stripers there. There has been spawning Bass seen in the lower sections of Anna, despite the cooler weather the last few days.
Fishing Report for Mar 23, 2022
Puppy Drum! Pups are lighting up lines throughout the inlets and tributaries of the lower bay. The Elizabeth River has been on fire with folks catching quality sized Drum. Many are over the slot limit size, but they are a blast to catch. Many are casting soft plastics to the shallows, on light jigs, with light tackle. Other tributaries of the James are good, along with Lynnhaven Inlet, Little Creek, and Rudee Inlet. Speckled Trout catches are on the rise in these same areas. Good catches of Drum are occurring from the surf along the coast of Carolina. Fishing from the surf at any time can yield unexpected results. An 11' Hammerhead shark was pulled in on March 21. This past week has seen some strong catches of Tautogs caught from ocean wrecks.
The Shad are coming in strong, and the catches are increasing everyday on the tidal rivers. The James and Rappahannock are the two most popular, but the other rivers should not be ignored, such as the Mattaponi, and Pamunkey. Many are doing well with chartreuse spoons, as the waters are still stained. The Rockfish are inhabiting the rivers also, but must be released. Many are being caught by the catfish anglers, using cut Shad. Look for the White Perch catches to increase shortly. The Bass bit very well on the Chick and James on Saturday, as 23 lbs was the winning weight. There were 2 Bass over 8 lbs, and 1 over 9 lbs weighed in. Water temps were in the mid to upper 50's. Some of the lures mentioned were, shallow crankbaits, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, jigs, and lipless crankbaits. Some of the lakes have the first wave of Bass spawning. Anna is one example of the early spawners. The Stripers are being caught more frequently from the upper sections of Anna now. This is also true for the Crappie. The bigger Crappie will sometimes be caught from the larger stumps next to creek channels. At Kerr, the Stripers are being caught from the points inside the creeks. They are also moving towards the upper end of the lake. Right now, many are being caught from the Butchers Creek ,to Grassy Creek area. Crappie are being caught by spider rigging inside the creeks as deep as 14'. The Bass at Kerr are being caught from the points also, but the points with buck bushes are better. The elevation is 302.91'. Little Lake Chesdin has been producing some impressive catches of Bass lately also. Local ponds are coming alive with Crappie and Bass now, as they will begin to spawn very soon.
Fishing Report for Mar 16, 2022
The story is pretty much the same as last week. The Puppy Drum action is strong, and continues to improve. Many are using soft plastics with paddle tails on 1/8-3/8 oz jigs, with the lighter ones being better. The fish are being caught shallow, in numerous places in the lower bay/oceanfront. Little Creek, Lynnhaven Inlet, Rudee Inlet, the Elizabeth River, and the Hampton area, are all producing Redfish action. Water temps at the moment are in the low 50's. Some are locking up with some Specks while casting for the Drum. The Speck catches will also increase greatly, as more anglers are out, and targeting the Trout. Many are hooking up with Rockfish, while casting for the Trout and Drum. The Rockfish must be released however. Surf anglers in the Hatteras area are experiencing great action for the Puppy Drum currently. A few Sea Mullet and Black Drum are being pulled in also.
Many of the local Bass tournaments were cancelled due to extreme weather over the weekend. Saturday was the precipitation day, in which some of the local bodies of water experienced snow, and high winds. Sunday, anglers were able to get out easier, and the Bass bit well. However, Saturday, the bigger fish bit better, as they often due during extreme weather. The catches at Lake Anna were especially noteworthy. Those that ventured out on Sunday, reported catching fish at Kerr, Gaston, Anna, and the James and Chick. The Kerr Lake elevation is currently at 301.68' Early spring standbys produced, such as jigs, jerkbaits, swimbaits, and spinnerbaits. Some of the tidal rivers are stained more than others, but a few catches of Shad are occurring. This annual event usually peaks around the 10th of April. This is about the same time the White Perch action peaks. Good catches of Yellow Perch are still occurring on the tidal rivers, particularly on the Mattaponi, and Pamunkey rivers. Look for the tidal river Bass fishing to explode soon, as the migratory runs increase. Shallow flats warm quickly, and current breaks provide ambush positions for predator fish. Lipless crankbaits can be especially good right now, along with spinnerbaits. The tidal rivers should not be overlooked for Crappie fishing, by any means. Most of them provide excellent opportunities for quality Crappie. The James can be exceptionally good for big Crappie. Look for them inside the larger creeks and pits. In the lakes, look for them around docks, and along drops with stumps, or grass lines. They can be surprisingly shallow as well. The Stripers are becoming much more active also. One report was that there were plenty to be caught down by the dam at Gaston. Kerr anglers report the Stripers being at the lower to mid-lake region, such as the Eastland Creek/Mill Creek area. Anna Stripers are being caught better in the mid to upper portions. Swimbaits, are what many are throwing for the Stripers. The upper James came up a bit, but is falling now, and currently at 6.2' at the Westham gauge. This is another option for excellent fishing in our area. With the warming temps this week, the weekend should provide excellent opportunities, wherever lines are thrown.
Fishing Report for Mar 9, 2022
Things are still a bit slow, as far as multiple species available, but spring is approaching, and the waters are warming. That being said, more anglers are out, and hooking up with Puppy Drum. Many are casting soft plastics on light jig heads to shallow areas inside places like Lynnhaven Inlet, Rudee Inlet, and the Elizabeth River. Folks are hooking up with Rockfish in some of these areas, but they must be released. There have been a few Specks caught as well.Tautogs are available on ocean wrecks, while some are available inside the bay, along the structures of the CBBT. Most of the bigger Togs come from the ocean structures. The warm spell sparked better participation at the point in Buxton, with some big Drum caught. Puppy Drum, and Bluefish were also caught before the cooler weather set in.
A different story is happening on the freshwater side. Many species are available, and will continue to get better. The tidal rivers are producing good numbers of migratory fish, such as the Yellow Perch, and in some areas, White Perch. There is much anticipation for the Shad bite to begin, in which, a few were caught during the warm days we had. There's been a few reports of Shad from the James, Rapp, and Potomac rivers. The tidal rivers are producing good numbers of Cats also. Crappie fishing has been good on the Rapp, and look for the James to produce nice Crappie any day now. The Bass are becoming increasingly aggressive, as the water temps continue to climb. However, this weekend is forecast to be cooler, so the bite may slow down. Lipless crankbaits are usually good in early March, particularly on shallow flats where the water warms quickly. The Chickahominy River seems to get better each year for large Bass. Chick Lake is another excellent destination for giant Bass. The pits along the tidal James are also known for attracting giant Bass at this time. The Bass on the James really turn on when the Shad run is occurring, which is just around the corner. The upper James has risen slightly, and become stained. The level is good right now, at 5.27'. It is forecast to peak on Saturday, at 6.4'. Now is an excellent time to target the Smallmouth, with the water rising slightly. Anna, Gaston, and Kerr, all produced solid weights during the weekend. Anna produced at 23 lb bag, Gaston produced a 19 lb bag, and Kerr produced a 20 lb bag. Some of the widely mentioned baits used, were spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, jigs, and shallow crankbaits. Water temps are in the low to mid 50's. These lakes are all known for large Crappie, and Stripers also. As a side note, Gaston may be the best of the 3 for the largest Walleye. Smith Mountain Lake should not be overlooked for any of these species, even though it is slightly farther to travel to. With fuel prices soaring, staying local may be a better option. The local ponds and smaller lakes can offer excellent opportunities for Bass and Crappie.
Fishing Report for Mar 3, 2022
The Redfish bite is still the most consistent bite among saltwater anglers. The smaller waters allow them to be accessible, even during rough wind conditions. The Speckled Trout bite is picking up as the weather warms. Both these species are being caught from places like Rudee Inlet, and Lynnhaven Inlet. Little Creek is another good place for these fish, but is only accessible from the bay unless one has a special permit from inside Little Creek. This is the amphibious base for the navy. With the quick warming weather, more species will become more active, we could see some early season Flounder from the shallows, if the warm temps hang around for a bit. Right now, the ocean wrecks are still producing good sized Tautog. Anglers making long journeys to deep drop are being rewarded with Tilefish, Rosefish, and Hake. There's been a run of big Red Drum at Buxton lately.
Yellow Perch have been making a good showing this week, especially from inside the Mattaponi river. For instance, Emma Rietveld of Richmond, was fishing with her dad, and caught over 50 herself! Folks have been doing well on the Rapp with the Yellow Perch, and the Crappie. Look for the Pamunkey river to turn on soon, as it is typically late to ignite with the Perch. These tidal rivers are also drawing the Rockfish, but they must not be possessed. The Chick is another good river to target the Yellow Perch right now. Small jigs, and small to medium minnows, fished on the bottom will get the Perch. The Chick river and lake are yielding some quality Bass right now, and will continue to to so for a while. The lake is especially good right now. Anglers are doing well for Bass, all along the tidal James. This time of year, the pits receive a lot of pressure, but they also put out high quality catches many times during March. There hasn't been any reports of Shad catches, but they aren't far away. The upper James produced some good catches of Smallmouth in the last week, but the level elevated to just over 6' at the Westham gauge. However, the river is back to dropping in elevation. Good catches were made with live bait, crankbaits, and jerkbaits. Look for the spinnerbait bite to ignite soon. The Bass have been biting well for many on the area lakes. Smith Mountain, Kerr, Gaston, and Anna have all seen strong results in the last week. Kerr Lake elevation is 299.61' at the present time. Anglers are finding Bass scattered in many different depths. Some are being caught in 3' of water, while others have been caught from depths past 20'. This is why they are being caught on many different lures. Lake Gaston produced a 9-1/2 lb Bass over the weekend, and a 20 lb winning bag. 20.95 lbs was the winning weight from Anna over the weekend. Water temps are ranging from the mid 40's, to the mid 50's in some places. The stained, upper sections of the lakes will warm faster on sunny days. Combine this with a south, or southwest wind, and the fish can really turn on. Anglers are running into good catches of Stripers on Anna, Kerr, and Smith. Swimbaits and jerkbaits are responsible for many of the catches. This is a great time for the big Crappie on these lakes too. Local ponds are turning on also, particularly for Crappie.
Fishing Report for Feb 23, 2022
Puppy Drum have remained active, and are being caught in many places along coastal areas. Rudee Inlet, Lynnhaven Inlet, the Elizabeth River and other inlets and rivers. They are also being caught from the surf along the Outer Banks. Many are using light jigheads with soft plastic swim baits. Mirr-o-lures are working well too. Some continue to catch Speckled Trout in these same areas, with the same lures. Tautog are available on ocean wrecks, which will produce nice Flounder also. Some of the typical February catches, such as Bluefin Tuna, have been slow on the reports. Hopefully March will bring heavy catches.
The upper James is looking good and some are taking advantage of the warm weather, and ideal water conditions, and catching quality Smallmouth. The water temp in the Maidens area was 50 degrees at mid week. Anglers are having lick with crankbaits, jerkbaits, jigs, and spinnerbaits. The lower James is also in great shape. Many focus on the pits this time of year, but shallow flats warm quickly, and draw in the baitfish, and the Bass. The Chickahominy river is another hotspot during February, typically. Lipless crankbaits are a favorite, as are jerkbaits. The Chick usually has a strong migration of Yellow Perch, as does most of the tidal rivers. Some are just later than others. The Pamunkey River is notorious for being one of the later locations to turn on for the Yellow Perch. The Rappahannock River has been producing nice catches of the Yellow Perch, along with Crappie, and Smallmouth. The Blue cats are active on the tidal rivers, and will continue to increase in their activity, as the migratory species invade the rivers. Soon the Shad will make their presence known. The lakes continue to produce quality Bass, Crappie, and Stripers. Smith Mountain has been outstanding for the Bass lately. Many are having great success throwing Alabama rigs there. The A-rig is a great producer of fish where ever it is thrown. Especially in the clearer water. Some are catching Crappie from boat docks in some of the area lakes. Small jigs are best for this method. Stripers are making moves also, especially at Anna. The Striper fishing usually busts open when the water temps hit 53 degrees. Searching flats in the upper sections can be most productive. On cloudy days, they are often more active, as are the Walleye, which can also be found better in the upper sections. A 4 inch swim bait is excellent for probing the shallow flats for aggressive fish. The Crappie and Bass are becoming more active in the smaller lakes and local ponds also. Slowly reeled jigs, and shallow crankbaits can be highly effective. Approach the shallows cautiously, as the fish can spook easily.
Fishing Report for Feb 16, 2022
Folks are having better luck in the ocean, than in the bay right now. Bay anglers are catching mostly Puppy Drum, and an occasional Trout. The better places have been inside the Elizabeth River, Lynnhaven Inlet, and the Norfolk area. Rudee Inlet has been good for some anglers lately. We've been hearing more reports of floating Trout, due to the cold water. However, water temps have risen slightly. As for the ocean catches, last week saw some remarkable catches of Bluefin Tuna out of Oregon Inlet. Earlier this week, there were some big catches made also. The Norfolk Canyon has been producing some nice Grouper, Tilefish, and Rosefish. This is a bite that is usually consistent. Anglers are also finding plenty of Tautog from ocean wrecks. This is another consistent bite this time of year.
The full moon is upon us, and this typically brings the Yellow Perch bite in strong on the tidal rivers. However, the bite has been a little slow. Folks are catching them, but they're not hot and heavy. The creeks along the Rapp have been the best producers so far, and this is usually the case. There has been some good reports from those seeking Crappie along the Rapp also. The reports from the Chick have been slow for the Perch, and other species as well. The Crappie on the Chick are still cold apparently, and the Bass have been a bit slow also. Although the 1st place weight from a Bass tournament on the Chick was 22 lbs over the weekend. 2nd place was significantly lower. This time of year, anglers can expect to do good with lipless crankbaits. jerkbaits, silver buddies, and jigs. The water temps are in the mud to upper 40's. The lower James is looking good, but reports have been limited. The upper James is in fine shape right now, and we should start to see some heavy Smallmouth catches very soon. Smith Lake has been producing some heavy limits of Bass during their winter Bass series. Over the weekend, 3 teams brought over 20 lbs to the scales. Many of the reports are naming Alabama rigs, jerkbaits, and jigs as the main producers. These same baits are responsible for good weights at Anna also. Single swimbaits are always good at Anna in the colder months. They are top producers for the Stripers, as well as the Bass. We should also mention that they are good for catching the Walleye that inhabit the lake. This is a good time to probe the upper sections of the lake for the Walleye. Some big Crappie are being caught from Anna now too. A good place to start, are the bridge areas. Using minnows on slip float rigs, is a good method for adjusting the depth of the offering without having to re-rig. Kerr Lake is seeing some better action for Bass and Crappie right now, as it typically does. The current level is 298.63' Much of the ice is gone on the smaller lakes, making them excellent places to target giant Bass, and Crappie.
Fishing Report for Feb 9, 2022
Last week we mentioned fish kills that sometimes occur during colder winters. There are now reports of dead Trout in Lynnhaven Inlet. This is a common, natural occurrence. The fish are there, as evidenced by the floating fish. Some hard core anglers are still chasing them with succes, but much of the success is coming from the Elizabeth River. Both Puppy Drum and Speckled Trout are being pulled in by anglers fishing inside the Elizabeth. Mirro-o-lures are the choice of many, but suspending jerkbaits, and 3-4 inch swim baits are working also. Other than inside the rivers, the saltwater action is slow. Some are choosing to chase down the Tautog with good success, but these fish are mostly being caught from ocean wrecks. Puppy Drum are still being pulled in by those surf fishing down in Hatteras. The area between Frisco and Hatteras has been the best area. There hasn't been many reports from the charter boats targeting the Bluefin Tuna. This bite usually increases greatly in March.
More impressive catches of Bass are occurring in the bigger lakes. 22 lbs won at Anna. 22 lbs won at Kerr, and it's taking over 20 to win at Smith. Generally, the water temps are in the low 40's. Some of the upper portions of the lakes are in the upper 30's. Many of the reports list jigging spoons, silver buddies, jerkbaits, and Alabama rigs as top producers. Single swim baits are working well also. 3-4 inch swimbaits are mostly being used. These lures are also appealing to the Stripers, and Hybrid Stripers. 12 lbs was the winning weight from a Crappie tournament at Kerr. This was a 7 fish limit. Kerr is known for big Crappie year round. The tidal rivers are coming alive with the migrating Yellow Perch. Fishing inside the creeks of the rivers is usually more productive than the main river sections. The Rapp has been putting out the better catches, but with the recent rains, the river has stained up. The James is not known for the spawn runs of the Yellow Perch, like many of the other rivers are, but it is known for the giant Blue Cats, as is the Rapp. The Catfish anglers will often catch their biggest cats of the year at this time. The upper James will be igniting soon for the Smallmouth, but at the moment, the level is high. However, it is falling. At this time, the Westham gauge is at 7.4'. Water temps are around 40 degrees. The lower James is less impacted by the muddy or stained water, as the upper sections are, due to the tide. Excellent Bass fishing exists throughout the winter on the lower James, and Chickahominy rivers. Much of the same lures that are used on the lakes, are effective on these rivers. Bright, sunny days can cause surprisingly shallow movements.
Fishing Report for Feb 2, 2022
Things are still slow on the saltwater front, which is typical this time of year. When the water temps drop into the 30's in the tributaries of the bay, we often see fish kills of the Speckled Trout. Trout are less tolerant of cold temps. So far, we have not experienced the fish kills. In fact, the Trout bite has been good for those experienced at cold water Trout fishing. Some large Trout continue to be caught right now. The usual lure for the Trout are working. Gulp! swim baits, Bass Assassin swim baits, suspending jerkbaits, and Mirr-o-lure baits are the main offerings now. Generally, a slow retrieve, or gentle twitches of the rod, are all it takes to trigger strikes from both the Trout, and the Drum. Some folks are catching mostly Drum. Much of the action is taking place inside the Elizabeth River. Tautog are still available on ocean wrecks, for those who choose to target them. However, the reports have slowed this week. A few Puppy Drum are being caught from the surf of the OBX, in the Frisco area. Shrimp is being mentioned as a popular bait.
Bass continue to bite well in the area lakes. Another heavy bag was weighed in at Anna during the Sturgeon Creek Winter Tournament on Sunday. 24 lbs was the winning weight, and 21 lbs was the 2nd place weight. 18 lbs was the winning weight at Gaston over the weekend. Many anglers are having success with Alabama rigs, swim baits, jerkbaits, and jigging spoons. Stripers and Hybrid Stripers are biting well at Anna also. They will bite many of the same lures used for Bass. Jigging spoons, and vibrating blade blade baits are especially effective for Stripers. They can be cast, or vertically jigged. Yellow Perch are making a good showing in some of the tidal rivers. The Rappahannock is usually one of the first rivers to turn on for the Perch. The feeder creeks are usually better than the main river areas. The tidal river Bass fishing is on the rise, despite low water temps. The Chickahominy is always a favorite, as it is smaller, and often yields very large Bass. The runs of Perch and Shad are often the best times to target Bass on the tidal rivers, as the rivers become more alive with food, exciting the Bass, and other species as well. Some are hooking up with Rockfish right now, but they must be released if caught. The big Cats remain active through the winter on the rivers also. Sometimes finding bait is the bigger challenge, when targeting the giant cats. Eels work well, and are usually available at Green Top through the winter.
Fishing Report for Jan 26, 2022
The Tautogs are biting well on ocean wrecks. There are charters available for these delicious fish. They are also hard fighters.
Die hard Trout anglers are still catching Specks from within the Elizabeth River. They are also finding Puppy Drum.
The water temp inside the Elizabeth has been around 35 degrees. The best success has been with Mirr-o-lures. Suspending jerkbaits are also working.
A few Puppy Drum are being caught from the Hatteras surf, and some Bluefin have been caught from out of Oregon Inlet.
The big news this week on the freshwater side is the 28 lb bag of Bass from Lake Anna during the Sturgeon Creek Winter Series. 25 lbs was 2nd.
Water temps at Sturgeon Creek were in the 42 degree range. Participants are hooking up with the Bass on swim baits, jerkbaits, jigs, A-rigs, and silver buddy lures. There are 2 tournaments left on the schedule. A few Stripers have been caught from the 208 area of the lake. Some reported ice in the upper regions. Kerr Lake elevation is currently at 296.87'. This is 3 ' low from normal pool. The lower lake temps are in the low to mid 40's.
The same baits working on Anna, are working at Kerr. There hasn't been a whole lot of activity from the Crappie anglers on Kerr, as the upper lake temps are a few degrees colder than downlake. The Crappie that are being caught, are being pulled from deep brush.
Some anglers are having success with the Crappie on the Chickahominy, and Rappahannock rivers. A few catches of Yellow Perch are starting to occur on the tidal rivers. The Rapp is usually one of the first to produce.
The upper James has water temps in the 36 degree range, and not many have ventured out after the Smallmouth.
Fishing Report for Jan 19, 2022
There's not much to report from the saltwater front this week, the precipitation over the weekend held many people back. A few anglers are pursuing Speckled Trout, but the colder weather has slowed down the Trout as well as the anglers. Possibly, the 2 most popular areas are Lynnhaven Inlet, and the Elizabeth River.
Mirr-o-lures are usually the best producers this time of year, but suspending jerkbaits work well also. They can be cast, or trolled. Warmer, sunny days will often draw the Trout to the shallows, but locating them can be tough. The weather is not looking promising for the upcoming weekend, but the fish will be biting somewhere. It's always more fun making the headlines, than reading them.
As with the saltwater front, not many wandered out over the weekend, due to the weather. Some good catches were made on Saturday, before the weather hit, at Lake Anna. The Bass are biting, despite the cold temps, and the water temps. Water temps at the 208 bridge, were in the low to mid 40's. Bass have been responding to jigs, jerkbaits, swimbaits, and spoons, or vibrating blade baits. The Stripers have been responding to the same baits.
Of course, live bait is a good choice to increase the odds of success for any species. There hasn't been much activity on the tidal rivers, but that should change soon. As the daylight hours increase, we get closer to the late winter/early spring runs of the Yellow Perch on many of our tidal rivers. Take the opportunity to tune up your equipment on the nasty weather days, or when travel is difficult.
Fishing Report for Jan 12, 2022
With the Chesapeake Bay Rockfish season out, those still fishing are mostly targeting Tautog and inshore species like Speckled Trout and Puppy Drum. Ocean wrecks are the place for the Tautogs. There are charters available as these fish are willing biters throughout the winter. Fresh clam is a good bait to use, as crab is hard to obtain.
The Trout and Pups have been cooperating in the Elizabeth River so far. Most of the reports are from those using Mirr-O-Lures, suspending jerkbaits, and some soft plastics still. Some of the inlets in the VA Beach area may be giving up Trout, but the reports have been hush.
Some good catches of Yellowfin and Bluefin Tuna are occurring out of Oregon Inlet right now. A few Sea Mullet were reported out of Buxton on the 10th. Other than that, things have been slow, and the anglers have been few.
The cold weather turned the Bass on at Lake Anna over the weekend. 23.70 pounds was the winning weight out of Sturgeon Creek Marina. This bag was anchored by a 9.49 pound giant! The second place weight was 21.51 lbs. Water temps have dropped in to the mid-40s in the mid-lake region early this week. Many nice limits were brought to the scales, with a variety of lures being used. Jerkbaits, swimbaits, crankbaits, and jigs were mentioned a lot. On Saturday, a 27-pound bag of Bass was brought to the scales for weighing, just for fun. This limit was anchored by an 8-pounder.
A Kerr Lake tournament on Sunday was won with a weight of 18.41 pounds, with 17 pounds being the 2nd place weight. Many of the same lures were used. The lake elevation is currently 297.10 feet.
Water temps dropped significantly in many places. For instance, the upper James River and Chick Lake recently had temps of 39 degrees. The tidal rivers tend to be slightly warmer. They can also warm up quickly on calm, sunny days.
The Chickahominy River remains to be a great option during the coldest of winters, and often produces giant fish and quality catches. There were some heavy catches made there over the weekend also.
Expect the Yellow Perch run to start soon, as anglers will usually begin to catch the early runners in January. Crappie catches have been heavy in the area also. As a surprise catch, one angler was fishing for Crappie at Kerr Lake and boated a 10.75 pound Bass!
Fishing Report for Dec 23, 2021
Lots of big Rockfish are being caught right now. The bigger fish are being caught outside the rivers, in the Chesapeake Bay proper. Several fish in the 50 lb range have been caught in the last week. Many are using live eels under floats, or down lines. Some are finding diving birds and casting to them with light tackle.
Those staying in the rivers continue to do well with the Rockfish also. Inside the rivers, most are trolling, or jigging. For jigging, 1-3 ounce bucktails, or lead head jigs with 6 inch paddle tails have been good. The trollers are doing well with tandem rigs, stretch 25s, and umbrella rigs. Trolling is popular outside the rivers also. It is common to see the majority of the bigger fish caught in the last 2 weeks of the year.
Trout anglers are still enjoying good success, with many of the reported catches coming from within the Elizabeth River. As the water temps continue to drop, the Mirr-o-lure baits become more popular, and often productive. These baits, along with suspending jerkbaits, are trolled, or cast with equal success. While fishing in the shallower waters of the rivers targeting the Trout, some are finding Puppy Drum. The lower bay inlets have been producing Pups and Specks also. The VA Beach area has been good to Tommy Earle of Richmond, as he has been successful with quality Pups lately.
As the bay Rockfish season draws to a close, more bay anglers will turn their attention to the Tautog. The lower bay structures will hold the Togs through the winter, and they will continue to bite. The bigger Togs, however, tend to get caught from ocean structures. The Tautogs are willing participants; it's finding the right bait that can be the challenge. Tautog prefer crab, which can be difficult to obtain during the winter. Fresh clam works well, if crab cannot be found.
Another season coming to a close is the Seabass season. This bite is also typically better the last 2 weeks of the year. The deep drop charters continue to do well for the Seabass. Seabass season closes for recreational anglers on Dec. 31.
Down further south, in the Buxton area, surf anglers are reeling in Grey Trout, Speckled Trout, Sea Mullet, and Bluefish.
Crappie are biting well in the lakes, and will usually continue doing so through the winter. Kerr Lake Crappie are biting on the deeper brush. In the lower lake, where the water is clear, the 20-30' range is good. The mid to upper sections, where the water is not as clear, they are relating to brush slightly shallower, in the 15-20' range. Kerr lake elevation is currently 296.11 feet, slightly lower than the normal pool, which is 300 feet.
Lake Anna Crappie are relating to deep brush and around bridge pilings. Stubbs Bridge is a popular hot spot, but most of the bridges are holding Crappie. Anna Stripers are mostly being found in the mid to upper sections. The areas from the splits to the 2nd bridges are where many are being caught. Many of the Kerr Stripers are being caught from the mid to lower sections, especially the Mill Creek to Nutbush section. Bass are being caught by a variety of baits, and at various depths. The more popular offering are A-rigs, crankbaits, swim baits, and jerkbaits. Some prefer to fish slower, and are doing well with jigs, particularly around rock structure.
The upper James River remains low and clear, as we have had little to no rain. The lack of current, low temps and clear water can make catching fish difficult right now.
The lower James and Chick are good options, as the tide offers greater current and easier to find current edges. Many of the same baits are working in the rivers, as they are in the lakes. Blade baits like the silver buddy are working well in the tidal rivers also.
Now is a great time to explore the smaller lakes in the area, as many of them hold large fish. Sandy River, Briery Creek, and Swift Creek Reservoir, are all worth the effort. Please be safe and always wear floatation devices.
Fishing Report for Dec 15, 2021
There are only a few more weeks of Rockfish season left for recreational anglers fishing in the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries. Water temps near the Rappahannock are in the 47-degree range. Many of the bigger fish are coming from the bay itself. A lot of fish are coming from areas near the mouths of the Rapp and Potomac, but there are plenty of keepers inside the rivers also.
Folks are doing well inside the James also, especially in areas around the JRB. Many inside the rivers are trolling baits such as tandem rigs, stretch baits, and buck tails behind three-way rigs. Live eels seem to be working best for the bigger fish in the bay.
Folks inside the Elizabeth River are finding Trout, Redfish, and Rockfish. Trolling is a good method for finding the Trout and Rockfish, but the Pups are mostly being cast to, as they have been hanging shallow. Anglers are also finding good Reds inside Rudee Inlet.
Perhaps the best bite going right now is the Seabass bite. Charters are returning with limits for all on board. As a bonus, these charters are also catching Triggerfish, which are very good eating also. The season for the Seabass closes on Dec. 31. There hasn't been a lot going on farther south, in the Nags Head/Hatteras area. Some Specks, Sea Mullet, and Black Drum are being caught from the Buxton area.
The water levels at Kerr and Anna are low. Kerr is currently at 296.31 feet. Anna is being reported about a foot and a half low. This has not stopped anglers from bringing in good-sized limits to local winter tournaments. 18 lbs was the winning weight at Kerr, and 18 lbs was also the winning weight from Anna over the weekend. Water temps are at the 50-degree range at mid-lake on both lakes. Anglers are doing well with crankbaits in various depths. Rock structure has been good in both places, but the brush bite has been better at Kerr. The Stripers have been biting well at both lakes too, with the area of Mill creek being good at Kerr. The mid-to-upper portions at Anna have been better. There are keepers being caught from the Dike 3 area also. The Dike 3 fish are mostly being caught by those using live bait.
We need some rain to improve the Smallmouth action along the upper James, as it is about 1-1/2' below normal for this time of year. Overcast days are desired when fishing these conditions.
The lower James and Chickahominy are good choices now also, but many of the reports are plenty of fish, just on the small side. Good Chain Pickerel fishing is occurring on Chick Lake right now, and should continue through the colder months ahead.
The smaller lakes like Sandy River and Swift Creek Reservoir offer excellent fishing during the colder months also. Swift Creek is a particularly good lake for Bass and Pickerel. Access on Swift Creek is not the easiest though.
Fishing Report for Dec 8, 2021
The Rockfish bite continues to improve with the dropping water temps. Anglers are finding them inside the rivers still, but they are also finding them in the Chesapeake Bay proper. With the water temps dropping below 50 degrees, the bigger Rockfish catches should start picking up now. Eels are what many of the big fish are caught with. Drifting them on floats, behind side planers, and just tight lining them below the boat at various depths are some of the preferred methods for presenting eels.
Folks are catching plenty of fish inside the rivers, mostly by keeping their baits on the bottom. 3-way rigs are popular now, as they can be adjusted to accommodate increased tide and current. Any weight and leader length can be utilized on this rig easily. Many use a 15-foot leader with shad baits attached, or even umbrella rigs. Mojos can be substituted for bell sinkers on the 3-way rigs.
Anglers are also having good luck with stretch baits trolled long distances behind the boat. Of course, jigging is another method for bringing Rockfish up from the bottom. 2 to 3-ounce buck tails will usually do the trick.
Anglers are finding plenty of Speckled Trout in some of the rivers and along the oceanfront. Better reports have been coming from within the Elizabeth River, Lynnhaven Inlet, and Little Creek. Many inside the Elizabeth are trolling. Suspending jerkbaits are what many will use, especially during the colder periods. These areas are producing good sized Puppy Drum and keeper Rockfish also. Cut shrimp has been working well for the Pups.
Get in on the Seabass action while the season is still open. The season will close December 31. Seabass are excellent table fare, and are readily available on ocean wrecks. Not much has been reported about the Tautog bite, but this bite should not be ignored, as they too, are readily available on hard structures and traveling far distances, like with the Seabass, is not always necessary. Tautogs are available inside the bay, on reefs, and along the CBBT structures. However, their preferred bait is not always the easiest to get. Crab is usually best for the Togs, but clam is also good. But then again, clam is good for just about anything.
The Sea Mullet bite remains strong along the Hatteras beaches and piers. The Buxton area has also been good for Speckled Trout, Black Drum, and a few big Reds.
Bass fishing has been excellent in many places this week. The winning weight from the James River tournament was 17.22 lbs. Many of the catches are occurring along the main river and inside the pits that are along the James.
The Chickahominy River is also an option, for those willing to make a long run. 14 lbs was the winning weight from Chick Lake over the weekend. Crankbaits, jigs, and A-rigs are typically the more popular presentations. Single swim baits are a good option also.
24 lbs was the winning weight from the most recent winter series tournament at Lake Anna. Two 17 lb bags were 2nd and 3rd. Anglers continue to do well with A-rigs, crankbaits, swim baits, and jigs, here also. Water temps were in the 50 degree range at the 208 bridge. This is an excellent temperature for the Stripers as well. Casting swim baits to flats in the upper portions will usually produce keepers. Slightly smaller baits, like the sea shad, work well during this time. Topwater baits will still draw strikes, especially when cast to surfacing fish.
16.55 lbs was the winning weight from Kerr Lake on Sunday. The lake level is down about 3.5 feet. Water temps in the lower section are in the 54 degree range. The Bass are responding to crankbaits, swim baits, jigs, and soft plastics, such as ned rigs and shaky heads. The Crappie are biting well on brush in the 18-25' depths. Some of these Crappie anglers are hooking up with good Bass and Stripers while targeting the brush piles at Kerr and Anna.
The upper James is still low and clear, making it tough for the Smallmouth anglers at this time. Overcast days are usually better when conditions like this are present. Water temps are in the 47 degree range.
Fishing Report for Nov 23, 2021
More and more Rockfish are being boated as the water temps continue to drop. The rivers are where most are having the best results. The Rappahannock River is the source of many reports, but it is also the most popular for the Rockfish. Tandem bucktail rigs with 6-inch shad bodies are working well right now. White has been the most consistent, with chartreuse being second best. Stretch baits are working well too. The James, Elizabeth, and Piankatank Rivers are good also. The Piankatank is smaller, being more popular for those casting from smaller boats and kayaks. The bridge areas like the CBBT and the MMBT have been good for those casting lures at night.
The Speckled Trout bite has slowed a little, but plenty of quality and trophy-sized fish are being caught in many places. The lower Chesapeake Bay inlets like Lynnhaven and Little Creek are good. Rudee Inlet is good also, as it opens into the ocean. A few reports from the Piankatank River over the weekend stated that the Specks were hard to find there. Inside the James and Elizabeth Rivers and the Hampton/Poquoson area are still producing fish.
More anglers are turning their efforts towards the Tautog along the CBBT. It is best to obtain fresh crab for the Tautog. Take advantage of the Seabass action occurring out in the deep waters of the ocean, as it will remain excellent through December, when the season closes. The Nags Head surf temps are in the 60-degree range and there has been a solid bite for Sea Mullet over the last few days. The Speckled Trout have been on the small side, but the Puppy Drum have been keeper size. The pier anglers are reporting the same, with more catches of Black Drum farther south. The boaters have been finding Blackfin Tuna and King Mackerel.
Things are picking up nicely as water temps have dropped into the 50s in many of the freshwater locations. The tidal James River produced a 17-lb winning bag of Bass over the weekend, with the kickoff of the winter season tournaments. Participants can fish the James, Chick, and Appomattox Rivers. The pits along the James are popular, as is the Chickahominy River, for those willing to make the run.
This time of year, some of the better producers of fish include jigs, crankbaits, both lipped, and lipless, chatterbaits, jerkbaits, and A-rigs. The upper James River has already dropped below 50 degrees, and is producing some sizable Smallmouth Bass. The level at the Westham gauge is 4.2', which is a bit low, and certainly clear. Natural colored baits are better when dealing with clear water conditions, but overcast skies can broaden the color preferences for the fish. Hair jigs and light leadhead jigs dressed with 4-inch grubs are what many turn to in these conditions. Crawfish crankbaits are usually good, as are jerkbaits.
22 lbs was the winning weight from the first winter Bass series out of Sturgeon Creek Marina at Lake Anna. And 19 lbs was the winning weight from Anna Point Marina, the same day. The fish were biting! Reports have it that some of the baits used were jigs, crankbaits, and swim baits.
The water temps are 55 degrees at mid-lake, which is a good temperature for the Stripers. The upper lake is usually the place to be for the Stripers, particularly the areas around the 719 bridges. The Stripers are still hitting topwater baits, along with swim baits. Live bait is always a good choice, but sometimes covering more water with lures is best.
The Crappie fishing remains very good at Lake Anna also. The bridges above the splits are always popular at this time. With hunting season upon us, the boat traffic is down, which means the fishing is often better at this time. Smaller lakes like Sandy River are excellent for chasing trophy Bass during the colder months.
All fisherman should be a bit more aware of the colder water temps, and the effects on the body once wet. Floatation devices should be worn at all times, especially if fishing alone. Be careful! There are fewer people on the water now to help with overboard situations.
Fishing Report for Nov 17, 2021
The hot bite continues to be the Speckled Trout bite. Folks are battling Specks of all sizes in many places in the Chesapeake Bay and along the oceanfront. Last Friday, the water temps were in the 59-60 degree range. Popular places are still the Piankatank, Mobjack, Little Creek, Lynnhaven, and Rudee Inlet. The Rapp and areas close by are giving up good Trout also. A lot of anglers are using popping corks, Gulp! swim baits, sea shads, and topwaters still. Jim Miller of Henrico went out Friday and had a nice limit of Specks, including a 5 lb 11 oz beauty as well as a 22 inch Puppy Drum.
There's plenty of Pups available in these same areas mentioned, as well as around bridge areas, such as the James River Bridge. The JRB area has also been good for keeper Rockfish. Many of the rivers are giving up better Rockfish now, as the water temps continue to drop. The Rapp may be the more popular one, but the Potomac and York rivers are yielding their share. Many are having better luck with tandem bucktails in the 30' range.
Another species that is growing in catches is the Tautog. The CBBT, bay wrecks, reefs, and ocean wrecks are producing fish. The Tog bite thrives during the colder months, and they are delicious. Crab is the preferred bait for the Tog.
Big Drum are being caught from the beaches in Carolina, especially the Cape Hatteras area. Fresh cut Mullet is hard to beat. Surf anglers are also reeling in Sea Mullet and Speckled Trout. Pier anglers are experiencing much of the same.
Not many of the charters are venturing out, but the few that have are returning with King Mackerel, Blackfin Tuna, and some Yellowfin Tuna still. The deeper water anglers that are targeting Seabass are doing well also, when conditions allow.
The Crappie bite is on in many places right now, but especially the tidal rivers. Both the James and Rappahannock are giving up quality Crappie to those that are targeting them. The lakes are giving up nice catches of Crappie also. The bridge areas in the upper portions of Lake Anna are where many are focusing. Docks with brush around them are productive too. Brush piles have been better at Kerr Lake. Many choose to use slip floats with minnows, as the depths of the bait can be changed without re-rigging.
The Stripers are biting a little better, but the water temps need to be in the 53 degree range for them to really take off. Topwater walkers are tough to beat for locating active fish and feeding zones. 4-inch swim baits, like the Bass Assassin sea shad have a smaller profile, which can be key during this time. 1/4 ounce to 1/2 ounce heads are the most commonly used.
The Bass bite is increasing all over as well. Lipless crankbaits can be greatly effective during this time. They are good for shallow cover, and casting to schooling fish. Alabama rigs are being cast more, now that the temps have the baitfish grouped up better. Many of the bigger bags in the colder months are due to the A-rig.
Tournaments are resuming again, and the tidal rivers are an excellent place to participate at. The James, Chick, and Rappahannock are all excellent destinations now, and into the winter months. The Chick is perhaps the more well-known for trophy Bass. Large swim baits are becoming more popular, as more anglers are focused on quality rather than quantity.
Fishing Report for Nov 11, 2021
The Speckled Trout are dominating the reports lately. Needless to say, the bite is on! Most any tributary of the Chesapeake Bay will produce quality trout, but of course, some are much more popular than others. Some are already saying the bite is starting to slow. So, get out as soon as the opportunity arrives. Many are tossing paddle tailed swim baits with great success, while others are also using popping corks, jerkbaits, and even topwaters.
The Puppy Drum and Rockfish are inhabiting the same areas, and attacking the same baits. Some of the more popular areas are inside the James and Elizabeth Rivers, Hampton and Norfolk, Lynnhaven Inlet, Mobjack Bay, and the Piankatank River.
The majority of the Rockfish action is occurring inside the rivers, as the water temps are still in the 60 degree range. Casting to rip rap areas, docks, and drops along the flats, are producing fish. Both main river areas and inside the creeks are productive. As the water cools, more fish will move to the main river, where anglers commonly troll baits like Stretches in various diving depths, and colors. Tandem rigs, umbrella rigs, and large lipless baits are working. Some are finding fish holed up along drops, and jigging for them with bucktails. For now, the shallow water anglers are having better success.
Rough conditions are keeping anglers either at home, or in the skinny water areas where the trout are, but it looks like things are calming down, so we should see more action from the ocean guys soon.
The surf anglers are facing rough conditions also, but the Drum continue to bite. The Little Bridge in Nags Head has been giving up some quality Specks lately. This area is known for the Specks, but the bigger ones have been showing up in the last few days. The Mann's Harbor causeway has been good for Rockfish, and the Puppy Drum.
The Crappie are biting well in many areas, especially the larger lakes, like Anna, Kerr, Gaston, and Chesdin. Brush piles and bridge areas are holding good fish. Community docks are another good place to explore the Crappie, as they provide plenty of cover in a small area.
Bass are using the areas too. So, use fresh line and be prepared. The Bass are being found along shoreline grass, docks, rocks, and brush piles. Much of the baitfish schools are still holding inside the creeks. So, they are good places to start looking. Smaller baits, such as 1/4 ounce rattle traps are good baits to throw, as the baitfish schools are mostly small bait. This is also true on the tidal rivers. Sizing down can be the key to success anywhere right now.
Topwater baits are still working well, especially for the bigger fish and the Stripers. Now is a good time to throw Alabama rigs for the bigger Bass and Stripers, whether inside the tidal rivers, or the lakes. The pad fields inside the Chick River continue to hold good fish still. A wide variety of baits will draw strikes now, as the fish are moving and searching the flats for food prior to cold weather coming.
The Smallmouth action is on the rise now also, as the days continue to shorten. Spinnerbaits can be very good this time of year no matter where the Smallies are targeted. The upper James is a little low. So, clear water is present. Overcast days are typically much better for clear water, and faster retrieves are generally better also.
The weather is getting colder, but the fishing is getting better— much better!
Fishing Report for Nov 4, 2021
The bite for Speckled Trout and Puppy Drum is top notch right now. The water temps are in the low to mid 60s, which is great for this time of year. Topwater baits are still being thrown with success, but the 3-4 inch paddle tail swim baits are producing big numbers of fish. Some are throwing/trolling Mirr-O-Lures with success already. The more popular areas for both of these species are the Hampton area, the Northern Neck area, and the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area. Areas from the James River to the Rappahannock River are consistent as well. These tributaries are loaded with piers and boat docks, which can be strong fish attractors for both the Trout and the Pups.
The oceanfront surf and piers are giving up good sized Trout and Drum. The tributaries are producing Rockfish also. Trolling inside the rivers is what many do to locate and hook up with keeper Rockfish. Popular baits are stretch baits, tandem rigs with 6 inch shad baits, and 1 ounce lipless crankbaits. Jigging is becoming more popular, as more anglers are adjusting to, and using quality electronics to locate schools of fish holding along the bottom. 2-3 ounce bucktails dressed with 6-7 inch flukes or twister tails is what many prefer to use. Night fishing in places like Lynnhaven Inlet and the CBBT has been giving up keeper Rockfish.
When conditions allow, or anglers decide to brave the elements, the Seabass and Flounder are biting on ocean wrecks. This is a bite that remains strong through the winter. Along with the Seabass and Flounder, the Tautog will also remain active through the winter on ocean wrecks as well as bay structures, such as the CBBT.
Unfavorable conditions have kept many of the offshore boats docked lately. So, not many reports have come in.
The surf and pier anglers along the OBX have been doing well with the Speckled Trout and Puppy Drum. The point at Cape Hatteras has been producing some big Drum lately, and the Bluefish have made a showing up and down the beaches, but it's usually later in the month when the bigger Blues blitz the beaches.
The upper James River has dropped to a good level. So, look for the catches of Smallmouth to increase, as November is typically one of the better months for the bigger fish. Fish shallow with moving baits, such as chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, and crawfish crankbaits. Topwater baits will also draw strikes, especially from the larger fish.
The lower James and Chickahominy Rivers are cooling down quickly, and the big fish are on the move. Shallow feeding movements are becoming more frequent, as Bass feed up for the colder months. The grass and vegetation is still holding the majority of the Bass, but sunny days will sometimes draw the fish to wood structure. The pits along the James are drawing the bait, and schooling action is occurring more frequently. A lipless crankbait is an excellent bait for this scenario, as they can be cast long distances and fished at any depth. The 1/4 ounce version is sometimes better, as it matches the baitfish size right now.
The lakes have been tougher than usual lately, but this will change quickly. Recent rains have raised the levels somewhat, which brought forth a spark in some of the lakes. Kerr Lake is currently at 298.08 feet. Find the brush piles and you’ll find the Crappie at Kerr. Brush is holding the Crappie at other lakes also, but so are the bridges, as they provide current, bait, and ambush edges.
Look for the Stripers to be moving shallow at Anna. Casting swim baits to the flats in the upper sections will usually find the feeding fish. The Christopher Run area is usually good during the entire month of November. On the Pamunkey side, Plentiful Creek is a good place to start. These areas are good for both Stripers and Bass.
Fishing Report for Oct 27, 2021
The Spot are still being caught along VA Beach, Hampton, and inside Rudee Inlet. This bite does not usually continue into November. So, time is running out quickly.
The Trout action, however, is getting better day by day. The Puppy Drum are right there with them. Most of the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay attract these fish, but not many of them keep them through the colder months. Right now, the more talked about areas are the Elizabeth River, the James River, Mobjack Bay, the Piankatank River, and Lynnhaven Inlet. Topwater baits and popping corks are at the top of the lists for presentations. These areas are also good for Rockfish.
The Rappahannock River gets a lot of the attention for the Rockfish throughout the whole season. Anglers are casting to them with light tackle, and trolling for them with umbrella rigs, tandem rigs, swim shads, and stretch baits. The better fishing occurs later in the season, especially after Thanksgiving.
This is the time when many anglers start to focus on Tautog. They offer great fishing through the winter, and are excellent table fare. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is a productive area, as are some of the artificial reefs inside the bay.
The Seabass action is very strong right now. Folks are also reeling in Flounder and Triggerfish while targeting the Seabass. This action is taking place out in ocean structures.
Surf fishing from VA Beach to Hatteras can yield catches of Drum, Trout, Sea Mullet, Bluefish, Rockfish, and Black Drum. This is a great time for the surf anglers, especially when the water is clear.
The offshore action has been slow, but catches of Wahoo and Mahi are still to be had. The inshore boats along Nags Head are finding Trout, Rockfish, Puppy Drum, Bluefish, and Spanish Mackerel.
For the most part, Bass fishing has been tough in many of the larger lakes. Daily weights are averaging between 12-16 lbs. Lake Anna has been the exception lately, where last week yielded a 25 pound limit, and this week's winning weight was 21 lbs. It seems that the Bass are scattered on various structures, making them harder to pattern. Points, docks, laydowns, and brush piles are holding fish. Schooling fish out in open water are also being encountered.
The Crappie action is much better in many of these bodies of water. The bridge areas continue to draw the Crappie, as do the docks enhanced with brush and stumps edging the channel drops. The rivers are cooling down a little faster. So, the better fishing is taking place on our tidal rivers. The upper Rapp is good for both Largemouth and Smallmouth. Whereas, the tidal James and Chick rivers are more known for the outstanding Largemouth fishing.
November is usually a much better month than October. Topwater baits are working everywhere, as the lack of rain has kept the water clear. Poppers have been excellent so far this fall. Lipless crankbaits are excellent also, as they can be used for searching shallow flats, as well as casting long distances to schooling, or surfacing fish. The lipless baits are also great for the Rockfish inside the tidal rivers.
The upper James is low, but is forecast to rise slightly due to recent rains this week. This will help the bite considerably. Rising water usually triggers heavier feeding, causing fish to chase more readily. Water temps are in the mid to high 60s.
Fishing Report for Oct 20, 2021
The Speckled Trout bite is the best thing going, especially for the inshore/shallow water guys. Lots of Puppy Drum are mixed in as well. Most of the inlets up and down the bay are holding Trout. The Hampton area gets a lot of attention due to the population of people being larger, but the fish are biting there. Fresh shrimp has been prevalent. So, using it for bait has been productive. This also bodes well for shrimp type lures and colors. Paddle tailed swim baits in pink, green, and translucent tones are standbys. Some days, the brighter colors like chartreuse are the ticket, however. Gulp! Shrimp rigged on light jig heads, fished along grass lines and depth changes can work very well. Some are still taking fish on topwater baits—especially the Drum. Many Drum catches are being made mixed in with the Trout. This bite will continue to improve as we enter November.
Many are catching Rockfish in the shallows of the inlets and rivers. Rocky areas, such as rip rap banks and jetties usually hold Rockfish. Fishing at night along the bridge tunnel areas are a popular tactic this time of year. The lights of the bridges create a shadow line, or edge, that can be worked effectively. Flukes and lipless crankbaits are what many prefer to use. Drifting cut bait along some of the bridge pilings works well early in the season also. Positioning the boat as close as possible to the pilings is most effective.
Folks are still finding Spot in a few places. These same areas are usually good for Drum, Trout, and Rockfish. The areas around the Rappahannock are still holding Spot. Areas like Fleets Bay and Gwynn's Island have been good.
The big Red Drum reports have slowed, but they're still around. Anglers are finding them around hard cover areas with jigs, and cut bait on fish finder rigs.
There's been a slow down for the Sheepshead catches also. These fish like the hard cover also, especially bridge pilings. There are plenty of fiddler crabs around right now, but the cooler weather will greatly diminish this. Use them while you can.
Bass fishing is taking a better turn in some places now, which it typically does this time of year. A 25 pound bag was weighed in over the weekend at Lake Anna. 19 pounds was the second place weight. Shallow feeding movements are becoming more frequent, now that the daylight hours are decreasing and the weather is cooling. The Bass are scattered in many of the lakes and rivers. Docks, rocks, brush, and grass lines are all giving up fish. With the fish being scattered, and Kerr being the size that it is, the Bass fishing remains tough at Kerr Lake. They're being caught deep, shallow, mid-range, main lake, in the creeks, and so on. Topwaters seem to be consistent, but the bigger fish are still hard to come by. This should change soon with the weather changes.
Crappie are being found in various places also—along channels, around brush, in deeper water, stumps in the shallow-to-mid-range depths, and along the bridge areas.
Fall fishing can be very sporadic, to say the least. The rivers tend to be a bit more stable. The tide dictates many of the feeding areas, along with the movements of baitfish. Most of the Bass are being caught from the creeks, rather than the main river. The pits are also loading up with bait, and should be explored. Lipless crankbaits are favored by many this time of year, as they can be cast long distances with relative accuracy. Small topwater baits are also preferred this time of year.
This is a dynamite time to target the Smallmouth on the upper James, Rappahannock, and New Rivers. The James is a bit low, but clear, so longer casts will usually produce better. However, the longer the cast, the lesser the hook set. So, lines with less stretch may be better for the longer casts. Spinnerbaits can be cast good distances and usually get good sets. A fast retrieve is sometimes better during this time. Heavier baits, with smaller blades, can work better now.
Fishing Report for Oct 13, 2021
Loads of Red Drum have been caught from the VA Beach oceanfront in the past week. This has slowed a bit, and hopefully, so have the crowds. Large Reds were caught by many, from both the surf, and the pier. Cut Spot is what most were using.
The oceanfront is also producing Puppy Drum and some nice Speckled Trout. The Specks and the Pups are biting quite well in many places throughout the bay. Just about all of the inlets and rivers are drawing anglers in search of these fall season fighters. Popping cork rigs, jigs, and topwater baits are all working. Some are pulling in Rockfish along with the Trout.
Keeper Rockfish are being caught from the James, Rappahannock, Piankatank, and Potomac Rivers, just to name a few. The Wicomico River and surrounding areas are a traditional hot spot this time of year. Anchoring up-current from wrecks or reefs and free lining cut bait down to the structures will, many times, draw strikes and create a heavy feed. Rock jetties, anywhere they are found, can be good places to find Rockfish. Casting bucktails, lipless crankbaits, and topwater baits, can be productive.
Folks are finding that the Sheepshead bite is still strong in many areas. The CBBT, MMBT, and the HRBT, can all be good areas. Fiddler crabs are the bait of choice.
The Flounder reports have slowed, but there are still plenty around to be caught. The bite out in the ocean is more consistent, so many prefer to focus their efforts there.
On ocean structures, anglers are finding plenty of Seabass. The winds have not been kind lately, So, recent reports are low. The surf has been rough along the OBX as well, but the Reds have been biting there also.
The pier action has been a bit slow lately, with catches consisting mostly of Pompano, Spot, and Sea Mullet. The surf temp has been at 72 degrees. The weather this week has not been favorable for the offshore anglers, but the inshore guys have been doing well with Rockfish, Speckled Trout, and Drum.
The tidal rivers are bouncing back nicely, as they often do this time of year. A 2-day total of 37 pounds was the winning weight from the Chick/James over the weekend. With the clouds and overcast conditions, many of the catches were made on topwater baits and spinnerbaits. Some reported having better luck from the James River, rather than the Chick. However, the grass frog bite has been good wherever the vegetation exists.
The Rappahannock River continues to be good for Bass, Crappie, and Snakeheads.
The upper James River is looking good, and is providing great opportunities for those taking advantage of it. A wide variety of baits are working, with some working better than others, as far as fouling or not fouling with the leaves suspended in the water column. Leaves also collect against the lower unit of the outboard, possibly creating problems if ignored.
The area lakes are starting to bounce back also, as tournament weights are starting to increase. Chick Lake is one that will turn on quicker, as it is a shallow body of water. There was recently a swim bait only tournament, in which a 6.70 pound Bass took top honors. Bigger fish should be expected as the weather cools.
Look for the Bass fishing to improve on Kerr and Gaston also, as we experience shorter days and cooler nights. The Crappie are still holding to brush piles and bridge pilings in many of the larger lakes.
It's still a bit early for the Stripers to move shallower. So, the live bait presentations have been the better producers lately. Some of the area ponds are experiencing turnover, which greatly slows down the biting. Once the turnover period is complete, the shallow fishing really takes off.